The Hands of Time

GSR Pequegnat Leader Grandfather Clock

GSR Pequegnat Leader Grandfather clock – Jan 2016

Ever since the Grace Schmidt Room re-opened in the  renovated Central Library,  it had been missing something – our Pequegnat Leader grandfather clock. When I started at the Library in 2004, the clock had been a constant presence in the GSR – stately, solid and a wonderful touchstone to Kitchener’s rich manufacturing past. During the Central Library renovations, the clock was sent to off-site storage for safekeeping. It returned in the summer in 2014, but needed a bit of attention, so it remained in our archives.

After replacement of a small glass door pane by Dave Burns of Foiled Again Stained Glass Studio of St. Jacobs and a refurbishment of the clock mechanism by John Budimlic of European Watch and Clock Repair, our Leader Grandfather clock is now happily ticking and chiming away. The gentle chimes remind me of an earlier time, when life was a little slower, reflective and deeper. It is wonderful to hear the soft chimes marking the passage of time – so much more friendly than the silent, unblinking constant glare of a digital time signal.

I’ve been searching for the age of the clock and from what I can tell from our files, the Leader grandfather clock first appeared in the 1904, 1913 and 1918 Pequegnat catalogues.

The clock was manufactured by the Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company of Kitchener. Arthur Pequegnat, who had emigrated to Berlin from Switzerland in 1874 with his parents, was a watchmaker and jeweler, who operated jewelry and repair shops in Mildmay and Berlin. He became fascinated with bicycles and opened the Berlin and Racycle Manufacturing Company in 1897 with his brother, Paul. Together, they built bikes which were sold across Canada. By 1904, Arthur had started the production of clocks and timepieces at the back of the bike factory. With the rise of the automobile, bicycle manufacturing was phased eventually phased out by 1923 and clock production became their main business. The factory was located at 53-61 Frederick Street (east side of street), near the corner at Duke .

The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company manufactured over 80 models of clocks for hall, mantlepieces, offices, schools, parlours and precision timepieces for railways. Arthur Pequegnat died in 1927 and the business was taken over by his son, Edmond. The business discontinued operations during the Second World War due to the shortage of brass and competition from mass-produced American clocks. A repair business and a wholesale business for Westclox augmented post-war clock production. Edmond Pequegnat died in 1963 and executors wound down the business in 1964. The Kitchener Water Commission office was built on the site of the plant in 1965.

Next time that you are in the GSR, remember to listen for the sweet sound of the hands of time!

Cheers, K.


Welcome Back!

GSR entrance sign

Sign at entrance of GSR

Well, it’s now official!  The renovated Central Library is re-opening on Tuesday May 27, 2014 at 9:30am. The past two weeks have been bit of a blur as we shelved and shelf-read books, microfilm and vertical files.  The GSR was the last area completed  in the renovation project so our preparation time has been compressed.  My heart-felt thanks go out to Ingrid, Anne, Valerie and the Karens (there are a few of us!) for all their hard work in getting the room ready.  It could not have been done without them.  I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with such a great group of people.

As with any renovation or move, there are bumps along the way – some shelving is on back order and our archival collections will begin their return starting in June.  We are still cleaning shelving in the Archives after the installation of drywall – but all will be ready when we begin the unpacking of the archival collection.  A new digital microfilm scanner arrived on Thursday, so we are on a bit of a learning curve and are still trying to figure out how it all works.

Basically, in terms of the collection, we’ll continue to have our Phase 2 collection in the GSR – newspapers on microfilm only, MGSR and MRARE books, all of our vertical file collection, most photographs and maps, but no archival collection.

The archival collection will return in waves over the next couple of months.  We were anticipating that the return would start earlier, but construction, movers, furniture deliveries and installation, and the closure of Ahrens Street have pushed back our timelines.  I would ask that if you are waiting to see a particular collection that you contact me in advance so I can check to see  if it has been returned.  Until all has been returned, shelved and inventoried, we won’t have ready access to the boxes, files and items that you need.

To those who have emailed or called me recently, I will be in touch shortly.  I finally have a desk, computer and phone – a new home in the GSR! I am headed out to a conference on Wednesday for a couple of days – another time wrinkle that could not be avoided.

To our Soldier Card Project volunteers, thanks for your patience and understanding! The military books will stay at Grand River Stanley Park until next week.  We’ll restart the mailing of soldier cards for transcription and research as soon as we can.

Please do drop by to say ‘hello’. We have missed everyone.

Cheers, K.



Moving matters

Archives storage room

Archives storage room nearing completion.

I’m excited to update everyone that the GSR is starting to take shape in the renovated Main Library building!

Our Archives storage area is nearing completion.  We have been busy washing shelves in anticipation of the eventual return of the archival collection from off-site storage. It will be like an old friend returning home.  The collection will be returning in stages – so we may not have all archival collections back in the building when the Main Branch re-opens.  If you are looking to view an archival collection when we re-open, it would be best to email or call ahead to make sure everything that you are looking for is in-house and accessible.

The other news is that our rare book shelving has been installed and staff are beginning the process of unpacking and shelving 139 boxes of books (the bulk of our MRARE collection). It’s bit of a daunting task, but one which has been a been a good opportunity to do book record updates, mending and other housekeeping items.

The local history office and public reading rooms are still “under construction”.  We are anxiously awaiting their completion and being able to move in collections, equipment and furniture. I’ll post photos once we have possession of these areas.

While we are working on the move of the GSR, we may not be able to reply to emails and process Soldier Card Project biographies and transcriptions in a timely manner.  We ask for your patience and understanding during the upcoming month – there’s lots of work to do before the re-opening (for which there is no date yet given). We’ll try to keep cards, emails, biographies, transcriptions and replies flowing as best as we can.

I am looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the GSR – soon!

Cheers, Karen



Well, that was fast… the GSR is now packed away

Empty GSR

Empty GSR

What do they say? Something about best laid plans… As with any large move, there are always changes.  In the interests of organizing the shelving and move into the new GSR room, the movers and the move coordinators made the decision to box the reading room collection late this week.  As you can see, the shelving  was also removed.

The end result is that I no longer have access to the resources of the GSR, including the microfilms as the readers have been moved to a staging area.

If you have queries, please be aware that I may not be able to answer until after we re-open in our final location.  I do have a few Vernon’s directories tucked away for Solider Card research queries and have access to our online databases and the vertical files (for the time being).

It’s been an exciting time as the new GSR takes shape and the Library begins its transformation. I am sure that everyone will be amazed at the changes.  I’ll  post more photos as the work progresses.  Stay tuned!

Cheers, Karen